Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
English vocabulary engage in English business conversation skills

Are you engaged in any  interesting new hobbies? 

Have you heard people use the word “engage” in English?

There are multiple meanings to this word, and so it can be an interesting addition to conversation.

We’re going to look at this common word, how to use it, and how to get others engaged when you feel strongly about something.

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Today we have a listener question about the word “engage.”

Hi, Lindsay, Michelle and Jessica,

I have been listening your podcast for three months, and it really helps me a lot with my English listening and speaking. I have a question about the meaning of word “engage.”

I know it has many meanings, but when I read this word, it is always confusing for me. I have a hard time understanding what the meaning should be or what context it should be used in. Could you help me to understand the meaning and how to use it?

Thank you for your help!

Fisher Luo

Understanding This Common Word

This is a common question because it’s a very frequently used word.

This word is very dynamic and useful, and perhaps that’s why you will see it used so frequently.

We will go over a few definitions today so that you know how to use it in conversation.

When you think of the word “engage” it’s like being or participating in something, or even being absorbed in something.

That’s the overall definition that encompasses most of the main uses of this word.

If you look in the dictionary, it lists many examples but overall it means participating in or being absorbed in something.

Though there are other meanings to the word “engage”, this is a good starting point.

Looking At Real Life Examples

This is one of those words that you may want to see in practice.

Real life examples for this word can be really helpful so that you can see how it all works in conversation.

When you say that you are trying to “engage”, there are some good examples of how you might do that.

  • In an activity: It may be an activity that you love or something new that you’ve been wanting to try. It means that you are into it or absorbed, and likely enjoying it. You could say “I am really engaged in the new club at school.”
  • In a job: This means that you have a job that you are very passionate about which can be rare. It can be used as an adjective too, and in this case you would say “He found his work very engaging.”
  • In something you are watching or reading: You can easily get pulled into a favorite TV show or an interesting book. In that case you would say “I am really engaged in this speech right now. It’s so interesting, I”ll call you back.”
  • Engaged: This is a bit different because this is talking about the stage where you are preparing to marry someone. It can mean the same as interested or absorbed, but this is in a romantic way here. You can say “I’m so happy, we got engaged this weekend!”
  • Get others interested: If you feel passionately about something and you are happy, then it tends to get attention from others. You may wish to get others interested in what you love. You could say “We want to get our listeners engaged with our Instagram.”
  • Engagement: While this can speak to the stage before marriage, it’s a broader way to look at getting people engaged in something. This may be used more in a professional setting. You might hear something like “We want to increase engagement among people ages 25-34.”

Is this word formal or informal?

It can be a bit more formal in nature, besides when you are talking about the stage before marriage.

Generally people may say “interested in” or that they “are a part of something.”

This isn’t TOO formal, and gives a different way to say interested in, or busy with something.

This works well in conversation and really helps to get your point across that you are interested in or even passionate about something.

How Do You Engage Someone?

There are times when you are going to want to engage somebody.

There are ways to allow them to or invite them to be involved.

You want to be mindful of the approach that you use so that the person actually wants to be engaged in what you are doing.

So how do you engage someone?

  1. Let them speak: In other words, listen! Rather than trying to speak over somebody or letting your voice be heard, take the time to listen. This is how you get people interested and engaged, because then they have a vested interest in what you are talking about. Simply listening can do a lot for your cause!
  2. Comment and share your own experiences: Once you have taken the time to listen, jump in and share your own experiences. Keep the conversation going by commenting and adding in things. This is what will make it a conversation. If you listen first and then comment, it will allow the other person to want to engage.
  3. Be expressive and energetic, and above all be yourself: It can be good to sound expressive but there are also some very engaging people who are on the quieter side. It’s good to express yourself and to show enthusiasm and energy, but don’t push it too hard. Always be yourself and it will work out better in the end.
  4. Make others feel good about themselves: Again don’t try too hard with this or it comes across as insincere. Just make it a point to make others feel good about themselves. If it’s sincere then it will work well and almost invite others to want to engage with you.

These are all great ways to get people to engage, and this leads to making good connections.

These are also great guidelines for making and keeping good conversation as well, so try to keep them in mind whoever you are talking to.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are talking about their clients for a marketing campaign.

Lindsay: “So how can we increase engagement in our key demographic?”

Michelle: “Lindsay–I have to tell you something first. I just got engaged!!!”

Lindsay: “Congratulations!”

Michelle: “Thanks! I’ll tell you more later. So I find this information here  very  engaging.”


This word is useful and it can be used in a variety of different ways.

It has a basic overarching meaning that can help you guess the meaning by the context.

Listen to how others use it today, and then practice using it in your own conversations.

A common word like this is great to practice with, and it may very well help you to make important connections along the way.

Having an engaging tone will also help you on the IELTS Speaking test. Go here to learn more about that.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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